2022 Colorado Music Educators Association Conference 2022 Colorado Music Educators Association Conference

Inherently Political: A Conversation Around Activism and Artivism in Concert Music

Theatre (Main)

Omar Thomas
University of Texas at Austin, Assistant Professor of Composition

Described as "elegant, beautiful, sophisticated, intense, and crystal clear in emotional intent," the music of Omar Thomas continues to move listeners everywhere it is performed. Born to Guyanese parents in Brooklyn, Omar studied Music Education at James Madison University and received a Master of Music in Jazz Composition at the New England Conservatory. He has studied under Ken Schaphorst, Frank Carlberg, and composer/bandleader Maria Schneider. His music has been performed by such diverse groups as the Eastman New Jazz Ensemble, the San Francisco and Boston Gay Mens' Choruses, and the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. 

Hailed by Herbie Hancock as showing "great promise," Omar has also created music in the contemporary jazz ensemble idiom. His first album "I AM" debuted at #1 on iTunes Jazz Charts and peaked at #13 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Albums Chart. His second release, "We Will Know: An LGBT Civil Rights Piece in Four Movements,” earned him a 2014 Lavender Rhino Award by The History Project, acknowledging his work as an activist in the Boston LGBTQ community. 

Omar has served on the faculties of Berklee College of Music and The Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. He is currently Assistant Professor of Composition at The University of Texas at Austin.

In this session, I will discuss the activism that is at the core of a number of my works, and considerations that should be taken when composing and commissioning such music.